L2R Board Members
Jacinda Richards- Founder & CEO
Jacinda Richards is a professional dancer, choreographer and community arts practitioner. Jacinda’s professional dance practice spans many genres including, jazz, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, Latin and West African styles. Jacinda has had the opportunity to work as a dancer and choreographer both in Australia and internationally, including performances and workshops in remote Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley’s, Ghana and Korea.
Since 2009, Jacinda has worked as the Community Development Officer at Western English Language School (WELS) in both the Braybrook and Wyndham campuses. WELS is a school for newly arrived, migrant and refugee children that focuses on developing language and literacy skills before students enter mainstream schooling in surrounding Western suburbs. WELS opened Jacinda’s eyes to the need for tailored programs specifically for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD), migrant and refugee youth facilitated by experienced community arts practitioners. It was from here Jacinda gained the impetus to develop and establish L2R Next Gen Inc.
Jacinda had a dream to create a safe and nurturing space where young people from diverse backgrounds could come together and share in the common passion for dance. Over time bonds and relationships form, creating a basis for increased social connections, confidence and self-esteem. This simple initiative was the seed for L2R.
Jacinda is certain that a major part of L2R’s successful program development and delivery lies within the mutual level of respect and understanding between community arts practitioners and youth. This is commitment to mutual learning not only by Jacinda, but also by participating youth, giving ownership and responsibility to all involved.
Jacinda believes there is one language we can all speak… DANCE!
Rebecca Thomas is a local resident who has a strong passion for social justice. Rebecca works as a Family Lawyer, having being admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Victoria and High Court of Australia in 2010. Rebecca is heavily involved in children’s family law matters and understands the importance of ensuring the best interests of children are met. Rebecca believes that L2R’s hard work and programs allow children opportunities to make friendships, feel like part of a community and have an outlet that is both healthy and exciting. These things in turn can contribute in a profound way to a child’s sense of happiness and security. Rebecca has been a supporter of L2R for the last 2 years. Rebecca acts as the Vice-President on the L2R board and brings her legal expertise to the Association
Kirsty Hooper- Secretary
Kirsty is an active, community minded mother of three small children who lives in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne and works at the University of Melbourne in Parkville.
Kirsty is currently the Alumni Relations Manager for the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. Since graduating from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science, Kirsty has spent a large part of her career developing and leading projects and programs to engage communities, be it through the arts, science or academia. It is her love of grassroots community activities that has led her to become involved in the incredible work of L2R. Communities, in particular emerging communities, need organisations like L2R to enrich, encourage and help translate their often complex and largely underrepresented needs.
Kirsty is proud to be part of the L2R family!
Rhonda Lim, is a Certified Practicing Accountant with over 12 years of public practice and industry experience. Rhonda has worked in both small and large companies and can offer specialised to advice to L2R in areas like financial accounting, budgeting and forecasting, as well as cash flow management.
Robyn Gawenda is currently an Arts Officer at Creative Victoria supporting the administration and delivery of arts and cultural funding programs. Previously, Robyn was a project Officer at Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV), where she was responsible for producing key community festivals and programs across metropolitan Victoria. Robyn became aware of L2R during her time at MAV, programming the crew to perform at the Emerge in the west and Rize Up in Brimbank Festivals. Robyn brings her knowledge and experience of arts and community funding program development and strategy in a not-for-profit environment to her role as board member of L2R. She holds a Bachelor of Arts( Asian Studies) from the University of Western Australia, a Master of Arts Management with distinction from RMIT and has a passion for grass-roots community arts and youth-led projects. Robyn might not be the best dancer, but she has a background as an okay musician and zine maker
Dennis, aka ‘Nasa’ is a B-Boy and Hip-hop dancer from Melbourne with Maori cultural heritage. Over the years as a travelling dancer, Dennis has built a strong connection with Hip Hop dancers from the Asia-Pacific region, building partnerships with dancers in New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia and Indonesia. In recent years, Dennis’ practice has begun to shift toward utilising the values of Hip Hop practice in community development process. Through his youth events Pyramid Jam and Cypher Culture, Dennis creates an inclusive environment where young people can connect and exchange through hip-hop and the art of “Cyphering”. Dennis teaches for L2R’s ‘Breaking @ Braybrook’ program, an open b-boy/b-girl youth class every Saturday.
Mitchell Neary has been in public practice since 1999 and is a Partner of MJ Business Solutions. He is a member of CPA Australia and is a Registered Tax Agent. Mitchell has a passion for small business, a caring approach and has the ability to translate technical matters into layman’s terms.Mitchell has been involved with L2R since the beginning assisting Jacinda with organizational development and Incorporation. Mitchell is passionate about seeing L2R strengthen and develop in organizational capacity and is keen to support and lend his expertise on this matter.
Simon is a hands on creative producer (Learning and Development) at Footscray Community Arts Centre where he manages arts and learning workshops for everyone from infants to seniors. After a long stint of living and travelling around this small world he moved to Melbourne in 2012 and joined youth focused design social enterprise Blue SKYS Media. During his travels he volunteered at Mirror Arts Foundation in Thailand and Fairtrade Foundation UK in Malawi, he also worked in London at the British Red Cross, where he helped embed a range of learning organisation initiatives.Simon has facilitated and managed creative arts programs with leading social enterprise SpeakOut Ltd (now Human Ventures) in Brisbane. This experience aligned with his passion in using strong process driven by arts and cultural opportunities to improve young people’s self-esteem and confidence. Simon completed his Bachelor of Business – major Communication in 2000 at Queensland University of Technology. Simon is now kept on his toes as father to two bouncing under three year olds!
Mary Quinsacara has over 10 years experience at the intersection of arts and health utilising her love and practice of hip-hop culture to connect and work for social change alongside diaspora and First Nations communities. Born in Chile and raised in Naarm (Melbourne) and working on Wurundjeri country Mary lives on the west-side enjoying long standing relationships with communities in and around Footscray to Kings Park. Currently studying a Graduate Certificate in Education at VU Mary has a growing interest in the role of community based education for young people of colour. Particularly how it can contribute to young people’s capacity to confidently navigate and influence different spaces and contexts so that they may live to their full potential, with the support of a community that holds, respects and reflects them.